The Bridgehampton Board of Education has approved approximately $35,000 worth of security upgrades to try to prevent a tragedy like the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2012.
At a meeting on July 31, board members approved the security changes, which include new locks on all doors, the installation of a monitored vestibule, and a plan to issue access cards to students in certain grades. The work is slated to be finished by the first day of school in September.
“Following the Newtown tragedy, area schools (including Bridgehampton) took a closer look at safety mechanisms within our schools,” Superintendent Lois Favre wrote in an email this week. “Recommendations from that review, as well as updates recommended through our five-year plan, led the Building and Facilities Committee to recommend updates that will assist us in assuring one point of access for all visitors to the school, as recommended by New York State and local officials.”
According to Ben Chaleff, who is overseeing the project, the school will get a new lock system for all exterior doors. The system incorporates a card swipe lock, which will require authorized personnel to swipe a district-issued identification card to gain access. Anyone without a card will be forced to use the front door of the school.
The front door also will be revamped, with a new vestibule. When visitors walk into the building, they will pass through two unlocked front doors into the vestibule. While they wait there, a staff member in the main office will monitor the entrance by security camera and determine if the visitor can enter the building through a locked door. Visitors who are allowed in will then be buzzed through a second set of doors.
“It is a more sophisticated lock system for all exterior doors to the building,” Mr. Chaleff said. “This is a new secure entrance for all visitors entering the school.”
As part of the upgrades, which board members unanimously approved, students above a certain grade level will be granted an access card. Although a grade has not been officially selected as the cutoff, preliminary discussions included the middle school students, who must travel between the main building and separate classrooms on the grounds.
The district will be able to control when the cards are authorized to activate the doors, meaning students will not be able to open building doors during the weekend or after hours. The district can also turn off the battery-operated locks to accommodate sporting events and concerts. All of the locks will have a key override installed.
Also last week, the district officially appointed Elizabeth Kotz to fill a vacancy created when the former board president Nicki Hemby resigned in July.
Ms. Kotz, who was first elected to the board in 2005 and has a son at the Bridgehampton School, will return to the board for approximately one year beginning July 31.
Ms. Kotz had two years left in her third three-year term in office in July 2011, when she resigned for personal reasons. She was replaced by Gabriella Braia.
“Elizabeth Kotz’s return to the board at this time provides for a seamless transition for the board of education as they move forward for the 2013-2014 school year,” Dr. Favre said in the email. “Elizabeth has long been a supporter of the Bridgehampton School, as a parent, a community member and an effective and dedicated board of education member.
“She brings a strong history to the table, as well as a real commitment to our students and our community,” Dr. Favre continued. “I look forward to continuing our work together.”